Star Struck: Interview with Irene Ang

What can I say about Irene Ang? In fact, it might be an easier question to ask what can’t I say about her. I could list superlatives such as fabulous, amazing, inspiring, but I guess I had better tell you why I think those things about this 47-year-old CEO, entrepreneur, entertainer, mentor and cat lover during our exclusive one-on-one recently.

As the executive producer of the upcoming inspirational love story “My Love, Sinema”, Irene and her team have been in Ipoh, which is the main setting of the historical film, for the past ten days. And the simple reason they chose Ipoh, according to Irene, is because Singapore does not have these locations (which shall not be named as they want to keep it a surprise until the movie is released).

Clad in a casual tank top and shorts showing off her golden tan, Irene explained: “The movie conveys the general message of not giving up, whether in love or passion, besides touching on friendship and brotherhood. We are glad to have Jeff Wang from Taiwan as this is his first Malaysian motion picture.”

As the mentor for young Director Tan Ai Leng, she had this to say: “She has her own vision. My job is to make it into a viable commercial business for the long term in order to attract future investment.” The film is a celebration of the once thriving movie industry in Singapore, hence it is spelt with a capital “S”.

Five years of blood, sweat and toil, “My Love, Sinema” is set to be released in cinemas in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China at the third quarter of 2016.

Having emceed gigs back in her school days, a stint as stuntwoman and an audience warm up part time job, she never thought she would be fully immersed in the entertainment industry until that fateful day when she helped out a friend who was in dire need of someone to fill in the role of “Rosie” in what would later be Singapore’s longest running and award-winning sitcom, Phua Chu Kang which spanned 17 years.

“Initially, I always kena (given) the mother’s role due to my voice and appearance. Hence, I tried to portray a similar yet different mum in each,” she said when asked on the possibility of being typecast after the well-loved hit TV series.

Constantly finding ways to give back to society, she believes that every artist could use their fame and fortune to give back. “Just like the Chinese saying, you qian chu qian you li chu li (let those with wealth contribute money and those with strength contribute labour). When I thought I am helping others, the reverse happens. The more I give, the more I get inspired in return.”

Her first time ever in Ipoh, Irene shared with Ipoh Echo her love for our authentic homemade fishballs. “Everywhere I go, I’ll order fishball and yong tau foo.”

As a loyal follower of her Foodporn videos, I could not resist asking her if she would do an episode here. “Personally I would be very excited to shoot here!” Our fun interview then quickly escalated into a heated discussion on Ipoh’s Foodporn-worthy food, occasionally interjected by her playful Singlish chide directed towards her staff such as: “How come nobody mention the tau fu fah? Take it down!”

Citing Sandra Ng Kwan-yu, Anita Mui, Meryl Streep, Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Robert Downey Jr as her role models, the down-to-earth Irene thinks that she still has a lot to learn and do.

“I know I can make people laugh. In future, I hope to get a role in which I could tug at the audience’s heartstrings,” she added.

And following is her advice for all the beginner actors out there: “Firstly, don’t act. Be the character. Secondly, know that acting is a team effort. Third, be directable.”

The CEO of Singapore’s first and largest artiste management agency, FLY Entertainment Pte Ltd would be celebrating her 20th anniversary in the industry next year. “It has not been announced yet but one of the upcoming plans is to launch my book by the end of next year,” she revealed exclusively to Ipoh Echo.

“I think I will never retire. At most I will semi-retire,” she concluded.

Irene is the queen of the social network boards; do follow her on Instagram at: http://instagram.com/flyirene.

As I was leaving, she beamed, “I’ve never thought someone in Malaysia would watch my Foodporn videos.” I think my life is now complete.

Mei Kuan

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